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So What Do You Do, Paul Carrick Brunson, Matchmaker and Co-host of OWN's Lovetown USA?

How one man landed a book deal and a contract with OWN, sans agent

- February 6, 2013
There are a few universal ways to measure career success: Financial freedom. A flexible schedule. A working relationship with Oprah. In three short years, Paul Brunson has acquired all three, ascending from a virtually unknown matchmaker/relationship coach to published author, TV personality and personal friend of Ms. Winfrey herself.

Surprisingly, the man who has been referred to as the "real-life Hitch" (in reference to Will Smith's character in the movie of the same name) says he always knew he'd be kicking it with O.

"I don't want to sound conceited when I say this, but when I first met her I wasn't nervous at all because I knew that moment was going to happen," the former investment banker recalled. "I knew it. I saw it in my mind... Now, are there moments when I reflect back and say, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is happening'? Sure, I definitely do that, but I felt in my heart that it was going to happen."

Name: Paul Carrick Brunson
Position: Matchmaker and relationship coach, co-host of OWN's Lovetown, USA
Resume: Worked as the director of U.S. investments for Bahcesehir Ugur Educational Institutions until 2008, when he left to study matchmaking. Launched his own matchmaking company in 2009. Joined the cast of OWN's LoveTown, USA in August 2012 and published the book, It's Complicated, (But it Doesn't Have to Be) in October. That same year, nominated for an NAACP Image Award, the iDate Matchmaker and Relationship Coach of the Year award, the Impact Leader of the Year award and chosen as a Dell Inspire 100 Honoree.
Birthday: August 24
Hometown: New York City "But then I've lived in the D.C. area longer than I lived in New York"
Education: BA in Business Law from Old Dominion University, MBA from Georgetown
Marital status: Married
Media idol: Gary Vaynerchuk. "He's one of the first video bloggers and he achieved incredible success building his brand. He's a social media guru."
Favorite TV shows: Meet the Press, No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain
Guilty pleasure: Cookies and cream and coffee milkshakes from Gelati Celesti in Richmond, Va.
Last book read: A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam
Twitter handle: @paulcbrunson

What's the key to writing relationship advice that resonates with readers?
I think that writing it so that you are writing it for yourself is really important. So everything that you're writing and that you're suggesting is something that you will do, that you can do, and that you follow. And that goes back to the whole adage of walking your talk. I just think that's really important. I also believe that whenever you are a reader of advice, it is very important to know the values of whoever the expert is that's giving you advice. Because if your values don't jive then, typically, the advice that they're giving won't be as applicable to you as it would be if your values do jive. So that's important as well.

"Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean that you're qualified to give relationship advice."

How do you differentiate yourself from other matchmakers and relationships experts?
It's interesting [that you asked that], because I just tweeted today that about two years ago, I really stopped competing with others. I now only compete with the highest expectation of myself. And that is the truth. It's important as a business owner to be aware of your industry and who's in it, and it's important to know your growth and all of those business-metric things but, ultimately, when it comes to competing with individuals, that's something that I find to be very unhealthy. And the reason is because it creates frustration; in some people it creates insecurity and, ultimately, we all have been given very unique gifts. No one can be you, so why try to emulate someone else? Instead, you should literally be the best you. No one else will be able to do that. So, I do not compete with anyone anymore. I just compete with myself.

Can someone be an effective matchmaker or relationship expert if he or she is single?
A few years ago, I definitely thought that you had to be in a committed relationship for an extended period of time before being able to give credible advice on relationships, but I have now shifted. And the reason why I have shifted is because I have met more people who I highly respect that give relationship advice and are not in committed relationships. And the reason I was able to understand this was really because of going to [my son's] pediatrician. She does not have children, but I believe that she is outstanding. For one, she has a lot of theory -- she's gone to school, she's learned, she continues to study on the subject and she's a subject-matter expert. And, secondly, she practices. So she's able to have clients and see how her advice plays out in real time and how she needs to tweak. So, just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean that you're qualified to give relationship advice either. What qualifies it is that you have mastered theory, you've become a subject-matter expert, and you also actively practice.

NEXT >> So What Do You Do, Nicholas Sparks, Bestselling Romance Novelist?

So how did you get your book deal?
I'm always really transparent on social media, so I went on Twitter and tweeted to my followers that I was thinking about writing a book. And one of the associate publishers at Penguin saw it and said, "Hey, if you ever write something, let us know. We'd love to look at it." A couple months later, I sent him a direct message on Twitter and told him that I had finished the proposal, and he said that he would love to have me come in. I immediately went to New York -- no agent -- and sat down and had a meeting with them. Within four hours of the meeting I had a deal, and I signed it the next day.

And how did you land the deal with OWN? That was through Facebook, right?
It actually started on YouTube. They were watching some of my YouTube videos and, from there, someone from the network contacted me on Facebook. We went back and forth several times via Facebook; at first I didn't think it was real because there are so many spammers on Facebook. I then came into the offices in L.A. and met with the network team, once again with no agent. I was there with my business partner, and we sat at this long table. There were 13 of them on one side and just my partner and me on the other. It was incredible. So, they basically pitched me the idea for LoveTown and I immediately signed with them.

"By the time our show aired, and even today, [OWN]'s ratings continue to climb dramatically."

Looking back, how do you think that you were positioned to take advantage of such an awesome opportunity?
Two things: One is quality over quantity. Don't let numbers skew you because the video that [Oprah's team] saw was, like, my fourth or fifth episode. So, if I would have let low viewership impact me, I might have stopped at my second or third episode, and I never would have gotten that look. So, if you feel as if you're walking in your purpose, and you're walking in passion, then you walk. And don't ever let anyone tell you to stop.

The second thing is that, even though we didn't have great viewership, I really did spend a lot of time on those videos. I'm talking about focusing on the sets and buying the right cameras and the right audio equipment, and I learned a little about editing and positioning, and I wrote a script, and then I would study and memorize the scripts. I mean, there were countless hours put into each one of those videos. And I think the story there is that you should put real time and effort into the things that you love. Don't half-ass. There's so much half-assing going on. And we think that we have to be fast to market or that we have to get a lot of stuff out. And that's the reason why we half-ass sometimes, because we try to cover wide, but we actually need to go deep.

Given the negative press that the OWN Network had received prior to the launch of your show, Lovetown, USA, was there any added pressure for it succeed?
What's interesting is that even though the press was beating up on OWN when they came out the gate, the fact of the matter is that by the time our show aired, and even today, her ratings continue to climb dramatically. So she's been on an upward trend. That being said, it wasn't as if this was a situation like, 'Oh my gosh, this show has to do these numbers for the network to survive.' It didn't have anything to do with that. But for me, and I don't know if this was a part of the question or not, there was no hesitation on my part -- zero -- in participating on the Oprah Winfrey Network, given anything the press was saying. It's the Oprah. Winfrey. Network.

NEXT >> So What Do You Do, Nicholas Sparks, Bestselling Romance Novelist?

Andrea Williams is a freelance writer based in Nashville. Follow her at @AndreaWillWrite.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The foregoing is the sole property of WebMediaBrands Inc. The opinions and views expressed in the interviews and/or commentaries are solely those of the participants and are not necessarily the views of WebMediaBrands Inc., its affiliates or subsidiary companies.

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